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Central Japan Self Drive Itinerary - Karuizawa Itinerary & Things to do in Karuizawa!



Situated near the foot of an active volcano, Karuizawa is a popular destination for locals to escape summer heat from the city. In addition, Karuizawa is well known for many luxury resorts and many would visit Karuizawa during winter to Ski.


After my visit to Karuizawa, I understand why Karuizawa is perfect for a short escape from the city. This place is also marketed as a one-stop fuss-free getaway to its domestic and foreign tourist. Not only one can unwind in the upscale and luxury resort, but there are also shopping street and ski resort catering to different needs. Best of all, this place is surrounded by nature and one can feel the joy here.
Read Hokkaido Itinerary Self Drive - 10 Day 9 Night here
Getting to Karuizawa from Tokyo
Transportation to Karuizawa from Tokyo by Train
Karuizawa is easily accessible and can be reached by 1.5-hour train ride from Tokyo. The one-way journey from Tokyo to Karuizawa is 5500 yen. Highly recommend you to get the JR Tokyo Wide Pass or even the JR Hokuriju Shinkasen pass if you are planning to explore other parts of Japan.

Tokyo Wide Pass (3 Consecutive Days / 10,180 Yen)
Hokuriku Arch Pass (7 consecutive days / 20,440 Yen)
Japan Rail Pass ( 7 consecutive days/  29,650 Yen)

Transportation to Karuizawa from Tokyo by Bus
A one way 4 hour journey from Shinjuku Station to Karuizawa Station cost 2200 yen. You can purchase the bus ticket when you are at the terminal or through Japan Bus online here

Transportation to Karuizawa from Narita Airport by Car
We opt for the most flexible option travelling to Karuizawa. Driving from Narita Airport to Karuizawa took us around 4 hours from Narita airport with a stopover at Kawagoe. If you are planning to drive from Tokyo, it takes around 2.5 hours instead.
Read our stopover at Kawagoe here
Kyu Karuizawa/ Old Karuizawa Ginza Street
Start your day in Karuizawa by exploring the shops lined along the Old Karuizawa Ginza Street. From French bakery to local products, there are many things delicacy found in the old street. Our favourite is definitely the bakery that was visited by John Lennon – Karuizawa French Bakery. The bread is indeed good! French-style bread but accustomed to local sweeter taste bud. 
Read Best Eats in Karuizawa here

Tip: Do avoid travelling on Thursday to Karuizawa if possible. A couple of restaurants and shops closes on Thursday! Nonetheless, there are still many things to do in Karuizawa! 

There are many local souvenirs such as jams and snacks made by locals for one to bring back! Do visit before 6pm as most shop closes pretty early! If you are running out of time, you can always visit the next morning!

Church Street Karuizawa/ St. Paul’s Catholic Church
We continue to walk and found a church street at the end of Old Karuizawa Ginza Street. The path from the shopping plaza leads to St Paul’s Catholic Church that was designed by renowned Czech Architect, Antonin Raymond in early 1935. The small wooden church is quiet and we found a couple of locals there enjoying their time there.

Kawakamian
In the evening, have your dinner at the most popular soba restaurant in Karuizawa. Their handmade soba is so good and best taken with tempura! We ordered a hot and cold version but find that the cold version is tastier than the hot one. The cold soba has a more chewy texture compare to the hot version.

Tempura was fresh and the Ebi tempura was my favourite among all. Fresh and huge! In addition, do try the smoked duck! We were blown away by the smoke duck probably because the smoke duck we had in Singapore is frozen and taste pretty hard! The one at Kawakamian taste a little like French duck breast but not as gamey! Perfect for those who don’t like the bloody taste from French duck breast!

Note: Do avoid peak period because the queue can be pretty long.
Address: 6-10 Karuizawa, Kitasaku District, Nagano 389-0102, Japan
Opening Hour: Daily, 11am – 10pm

Shiraito Waterfall
Next morning drive towards Shiraito Waterfall also known as Shiraito no Taki. Situated along the north of downtown, Shiraito waterfall is a very unique waterfall. It is a 3m height, 70-meter wide waterfall with a constant strength of flow throughout the day. With multiple streams of water drape over the surface, it is gorgeous and very calming to watch!

Onioshidashi Park
In the afternoon, make your way to Onionshidashi Park. The park features a landscape of volcanic rock and is shaped by the volcanic sediment during the 1783 eruption of Mount Asama. The view of the park is breathe taking, making it a great stopover before continuing the journey to Kusatsu, the best onsen town in Japan!

Despite the short time spent in Karuizawa, H & I love our time there! It's a nice escape from city life. Great food and amazing stay! Can't wait to share more about Kyukaruizawa Kikyo, Curio Collection by Hilton! 

Do note that this is part 2 of our 7 Day 6 Night Central Japan Self Drive Itinerary. Be sure to come back for more updates in the upcoming week!

Other things to do in Karuizawa
Naka-Karuizawa
Credit: Common Wikimedia
Located on the west of Karuizawa, Naka-Karuizawa is a secondary town centre in Karuizawa that is located nearer to train station as the Shinano railway stop by here. Despite few shops and restaurants, the location is nearer to nature.

Harunire Terrace
Credit: Common Wikimedia
Similar to Old Karuizawa Ginza shopping street, Harunire Terrace has shops lined along the wooden terrace. The upscale shopping street in Karuiza is surrounded by forest, making it a beautiful place to relax.

Uchimura Kanzo Memorial Stone Church
Credit: Common Wikimedia

Uchimura Kanzo Memorial Stone Church has a very unique and beautiful design. It also reflects the fusion between art and religion. The church was built to commemorate the leader Uchimura Kanzo. With different layer seen in the charge, it was designed to fit with the slope of the land and its surrounding. Definitely a gem in Karuizawa

Hiroshi Senju Museum Karuizawa
Credit: Common Wikimedia
Fan of Hiroshi Senjyu will love to visit the Hiroshi Senju Museum. With several masterpieces of Hiroshi Senjyu and stunning architectural design, one can expect to spend a couple of hours here. Find out more about the museum and its exhibition here

Read Best Eats in Karuizawa here



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